Samsung Quashes Battery Link to Report Galaxy Note 7 Fires in China

Samsung Quashes Battery Link to Report Galaxy Note 7 Fires in China

Samsung Electronics Co. determined that a problem with batteries that triggered a global recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones wasn’t to blame for devices that burst into flame in China, saying their combustion was likely due to unspecified external heat sources.

The company launched a preliminary investigation after comments circulated over the weekend on social media about two of the high-end phones sold in China igniting, mirroring complaints by Note 7 users from the US to South Korea. But on Monday, Samsung and its supplier Amperex Technology said they found no evidence of a link between its batteries and the fires.

The South Korean company is grappling with its deepest crisis in years, a global recall precipitated by scores of reports that the batteries in its newest gadget were prone to sudden combustion. But it continued selling Note 7 devices in China, explaining that the power cells for phones sold there came from ATL and carried no defects.

“Samsung has begun an initial investigation and determined that the device’s overheating had no direct link to the batteries our company produced,” ATL said in a statement. “We judge that the heat source originated outside of the battery, and the overheating was very possibly caused by external factors.”

Samsung announced a worldwide recall of the Galaxy Note 7 – one of its best-reviewed phones upon debut – on September 2 that could cost the company upwards of $1 billion. Regulators, airlines and the company itself warned against the use of the devices. While China had been excluded from the recall, Samsung plans to retrieve a batch of fewer than 2,000 pre-sale test devices starting this week.

The batteries from the phones with confirmed problems are made by Samsung SDI Co., a person familiar with the matter has said.

The misstep has set off soul-searching at the conglomerate and in South Korea, where the company employs hundreds of thousands and is revered for leading the nation’s rise since the Korean War. Samsung’s flagship electronics unit built its reputation on high-quality products and cutting-edge technology, becoming the largest phone maker in the world and a powerful rival to Apple in innovation.

It’s been trying to get to the bottom of the faulty batteries in concert with regulators. Its initial conclusions indicate an error in production placed pressure on plates contained within battery cells. That in turn brought negative and positive poles into contact, triggering excessive heat. Samsung however stressed that it needed to carry out a more thorough analysis to determine “the exact cause” of battery damage.

According to China’s inspection agency, certain parts of the separator that sits between electrodes could thin out and rubber insulators may not adequately cover the plates, causing a short-circuit.

Oracle's Ellison Aims at Amazon With Fresh Cloud Services

Oracle's Ellison Aims at Amazon With Fresh Cloud Services

Oracle Corp. unveiled new services that help customers take advantage of cloud computing, putting it more directly in competition with Amazon.com.

The company announced [email protected], which puts the same hardware and software Oracle uses in its data centers in the customers’ own facilities, Executive Chairman Larry Ellison said Sunday during a presentation at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. Customers who get the gear in-house won’t need to buy the technology; instead, they can subscribe to the service on a monthly basis, just like they would if they were buying from a distant cloud-computing site. He also announced what he said were more powerful products at a lower cost than those from Amazon, the leading public cloud provider and Oracle’s No. 1 competitor in infrastructure.

“Amazon’s lead is over,” Ellison said. “Amazon’s going to have serious competition.”

Oracle is stepping up efforts in cloud-based technology, rolling out new products and making acquisitions to woo businesses that prefer to buy computing, networking and storage capabilities via networks from large providers. Amazon, which helped pioneer the market known as the public cloud, has grabbed the attention of startups and corporations around the world, an effort that’s also put it in competition with Microsoft Corp. and Google.

“Oracle is going to be a major player in the cloud – the size of its existing customer base gives it a great opportunity,” Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC, said in an email. “In terms of market leadership, I think we will have to watch how fast Oracle can crank growth and specifically investment in infrastructure to really get ahead of the competition.”

The new [email protected] program will be managed by Oracle. The service will act as an alternative to moving everything to the cloud right away or keeping everything in-house, Ellison said.

“We’ll put that part of the Oracle cloud behind your firewall, where it’s more protected and adheres to certain statutory requirements,” he said. “The [email protected] machines are identical.”

During Ellison’s presentation, which stretched for more than an hour, he unveiled several new services that touched on areas including databases and programming methods. It even included a demonstration for a new ChatBot platform that integrates with Facebook’s Messenger application. Still, cloud was a key focus – including details about its fresh approach to infrastructure that’s built for speed and availability, Ellison said.

“Oracle has established a thoughtful foundation,” Chad Eschinger, an analyst at Gartner, said in an email. “We need to keep in mind that it’s years behind but able to leverage new technology and years of lessons learned enabling it to ramp much more quickly.”

Redwood City, California-based Oracle said earlier Sunday that it was acquiring startup Palerra, helping enhance security and identity capabilities for cloud applications. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

“Palerra offers a unique combination of visibility into cloud usage, data security, user behavior analytics, and security configuration, with automated incident responses,” the company said on its website. “Customers can respond to cloud security incidents in real-time, protecting sensitive company data and workloads across all of the leading cloud services.”

At the presentation, Ellison talked up the importance of artificial intelligence, including machine learning, as Oracle introduces tools that use the technology. He said his customers benefit from the massive database built up over the years, comparing it with Facebook’s trove of user information.

Oracle also unveiled its strategy for key cloud offerings – including finance and human resources – that blend third-party data with real-time analytics and behavioral inputs to create software that adapts and learns. The result is applications that automatically offer individualized recommended actions, Oracle said.

MakeMyTrip and Ibibo to Merge Under the MakeMyTrip Brand

MakeMyTrip and Ibibo to Merge Under the MakeMyTrip Brand

MakeMyTrip and Ibibo, two of the biggest online travel platforms in India, have announced a merger that will combine the two businesses under the former’s brand. The combined entity, said to have a valuation of $1.8 billion (approximately Rs. 12,010 crore), and will include Ibibo’s ride-sharing service Ryde, and MakeMyTrip’s homestay platform Rightstay.

Ibibo will be merged into MakeMyTrip, and the Naspers-Tencent combine that backs Ibibo will be the single largest shareholder in the combined entity. The transaction, which is expected to close by December 2016 is subject to approval by regulators. This might be a potential stumbling block as the two companies are arguably the biggest in the space in India.

In terms of organisation, MakeMyTrip’s leadership won’t change much – MakeMyTrip founder Deep Kalra remains the Group CEO and Executive Chairman, while Rajesh Magow remains CEO India. Ibibo’s CEO, Ashish Kashyap, who founded the company in 2007, will join MakeMyTrip as a co-founder and President.

“Today’s announcement is a significant step forward for the rapidly growing travel industry in India,” said Deep Kalra. “We expect this deal to create an even more scalable business with the expertise to transform the booking experience for Indian travellers. I am delighted to be leading such a strong team in our next chapter of high‐growth in this dynamic industry.”

“We welcome the Ibibo team to the newly expanded MakeMyTrip family,” Rajesh Magow added. “The combination of these two enterprises, with their deep understanding of customer preferences, will help us provide an even stronger value proposition to our users and offer further career growth opportunities for all employees”.

“Since I founded Ibibo in 2007, we have innovated and grown to become one of the leading travel companies in India, providing solutions not just for travellers, but for suppliers too,” said Ashish Kashyap. “Deep, Rajesh and I saw a great opportunity to join forces, and I am excited that this merger enables all of us to continue a great journey together as the leading travel group in India.”

MakeMyTrip has been pursuing a series of smaller acquisitions of late, while Ibibo has been involved in some high profile acquisitions such as its 2013 purchase of bus booking portal Redbus. According to a statement issued by MakeMyTrip, the two companies together processed 34.1 million transactions during financial year 2016.

Google Gets More Time to Counter EU Antitrust Charge on Android

Google Gets More Time to Counter EU Antitrust Charge on Android

Alphabet’s Google has been given an extra three weeks to respond to EU antitrust charges that it abused its dominant Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

The US tech giant had been due to file a response by Tuesday but said it needed more time and will now reply by October 7, a Commission spokesman said, the third extension of the deadline.

The Commission in April accused Google of harming consumers because it required mobile phone makers to pre-install Google Search and the Google Chrome browser on their smartphones to access other Google apps.

“We confirm that the new deadline set by the Commission is October 7,” a Commission spokesman said.” Google asked for additional time to review the documents in the case file.”

The world’s most popular Internet search engine has also asked and been granted an extension to October 13 to reply to a separate charge of favouring its shopping service over rival services in Internet search results.

It has until October 5 to respond to a third accusation of blocking competitors in online search advertising.

Google, which could be fined up to $7.4 billion (roughly Rs. 49,684 crores) or 10 percent of its global turnover for each charge and forced to change its business practices if found guilty of breaching EU rules, has previously deny any wrongdoing.

Microsoft Brings Google Drive and Facebook Support to Outlook on Web

Microsoft Brings Google Drive and Facebook Support to Outlook on Web

Microsoft has finally added Google Drive support for Outlook on Web to allow users to receive and edit the files from the Internet version of its email client. The company has also added the support for Facebook and made it easier to search for attachment in long conversations with its update to Outlook.

The Android and iOS version of Outlook already allowed users to receive and edit the files from Google Drive from inside the app. However, users will now be able to edit their Google Drive documents from the Web version of the Outlook email client as well.

In order to attach a file, all you need to do is open a new message and click on the attachment icon. Then you need to select Google Drive and enter the credentials of your account. After this, your Google Drive account will appear as a source when attaching files.

Now, you can also open the Google Doc, Slide or Sheet files within Outlook instead of opening another window. “Just like photos and Office file types, the Google files open in Outlook next to your message window so your work flow is not disrupted. And, as with Google Drive links, if you have edit permissions, you’ll be able to edit using the full functionality available on Google Drive,” Microsoft said in its official blog.

Similarly, after connecting your Facebook account with Outlook, you can browse and attach your Facebook photos from within Outlook.

Further, Microsoft has made it easier to search for attachments inside the app as at the top of every thread, you will now find an attachment icon. On clicking this icon, it will open a drop-down list of all the attachments in the conversation. You can then simply select the file you are looking for and open it instead of clicking through each reply or expanding the thread.

Google's Shop the Look Feature to Show Smarter Shopping Ads in Search Results

Google last year added ‘Purchases on Google’ or ‘Buy buttons’, making it easier for mobile users to shop while using Google Search. This was part of the company’s attempt to lure customers to its site rather than shop via Facebook or Pinterest. Google’s aim was to simplify the process of searching and buying products.

In an attempt to make mobile shopping even simpler, Google is now testing a new format called ‘Shop the Look’ that lets you search for specific outfits and home décor options, showing pictures and purchase links within ‘Shopping ads’ on the search engine. This means users will not have to switch to a different website to purchase the outfit or home decor.

Google's Shop the Look Feature to Show Smarter Shopping Ads in Search Results

To get the format going, Google is partnering with sites like LiketoKnow.it, Curalate and yahoo-owned Polyvore which are platforms that allow fashion bloggers to make money from their posts. Essentially, Google will source the content from these sites and pull the photos and affiliate links when a search related to that particular outfit or home décor option is initiated. Users can select one of the looks, which will then show similar products related to the choice.

Where users would previously use social apps like Instagram or Pinterest to follow their favourite fashion blogger and home decorator, they can now find their favourite blogger and purchase related options directly through Google’s engine without the need to use an app. This is what Google hopes to achieve with the ‘Shop the Look’ app.

This new feature could not only be beneficial for Google but also for fashion bloggers who until now have to use platforms like Polyvore to earn. By hopping on to Google’s engine, these bloggers can be discovered by a wider audience. Bloggers and retailers who want to show their products within the Shop the Look experience will need to create a shopping campaign, and optimise their bids for mobile. The ‘Shop the Look’ feature is currently being tested in the US.

Facebook Chooses New Mexico as Site for Next Data Centre

Facebook Chooses New Mexico as Site for Next Data Centre

Facebook has chosen a village on the edge of New Mexico’s largest metropolitan area as the location for its new data center, an announcement that spread quickly Wednesday as elected officials celebrated a hard-fought win that could have ripple effects for the state’s struggling economy.

News of the social media giant’s decision to build in Los Lunas, just south of Albuquerque, comes after a roller-coaster contest between New Mexico and Utah to attract the facility.

The courting of Facebook began more than a year ago with a meeting between Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Facebook executives. During a visit to California, Martinez and her economic development team pitched the sparsely populated state as a good place to do business.

New Mexico wasn’t on the radar before that August 2015 meeting.

“With the improvements we’ve made over the past several years, New Mexico is finally competing again, and in this case, it’s a big win for the people of our state and our economic future,” the governor said.

While the project has enjoyed broad political support in New Mexico, local leaders in Utah pushed back against a tax-incentive plan they saw as too generous.

Utah supporters said the project would bring a high-tech cachet that could draw other companies to West Jordan, but critics said the cost was too high for land that could attract other development.

The village of Los Lunas, meanwhile, agreed to give up all property taxes for 30 years in exchange for annual payments from Facebook that start at $50,000 and top out at less than $500,000. The complex economic development agreement also involves tax breaks on billions of dollars in computer equipment over time.

In Utah, an initial $240 million tax-break plan publicly fell apart after several leaders said the lure was too rich. Despite talks being revived, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert later said the deal looked dormant, if not dead.

West Jordan Mayor Kim Rolfe said he’s disappointed his city wasn’t chosen and the tax-break package was unfairly maligned. The billion-dollar project would have been an economic boon, he said.

A critic of the Utah plan, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, said the cost to taxpayers was too steep.

“We will walk away from a bad deal. We’re not so desperate that we’re willing to give everything away,” he said.

The cost-benefit analysis is different for New Mexico, he said.

New Mexico officials have appeared eager to please Facebook after the state was hit hard by a downturn in the oil and natural gas sectors. Computer chip maker Intel, meanwhile, has been steadily unwinding a major manufacturing plant that was an early beneficiary of similar property tax breaks using industrial revenue bonds.

Los Lunas economic development director Ralph Mims dismissed criticisms of the package state and local officials created to woo Facebook to New Mexico.

“If you want to bring business in, you have to offer incentives,” Mims said. “This is the biggest thing since Intel and you have to look at the economic development spillover. It’s not just about the data center.”

Data centers are key to the booming cloud-computing economy, but they typically bring few local jobs.

Officials hope Facebook construction will spill over into other parts of the economy, including three industrial-scale solar power plants that would be built to offset electricity consumed by the data center.

Los Lunas officials have said the center would be a $1.8 billion construction project creating 300 direct temporary jobs and just 50 permanent jobs.

Construction is expected to start next month, with the center coming online in late 2018.

India's Internet Users to Touch 500 Million by 2020, Says Google

India's Internet Users to Touch 500 Million by 2020, Says Google

With the advent of affordable smartphones and growing reach of internet across the country, India’s online population will reach 500 million by 2020, Google’s Asia Pacific Language Head, Richa Singh Chitranshi said.

“India’s online population will reach 500 million by 2020 with majority of them being local language users,” Chitranshi said while addressing IT students at Rajiv Gandhi Proayogiki (Technology) Vishwavidyalaya (RGPV) here.

The event was jointly organised by RGPV and MPPOST, an online portal, yesterday. Speaking about the future and present of the internet

Chitranshi said it was mainly due to availability of affordable smartphones and data packs that have enabled millions in Indians to go online.

She also informed that today over 65 percent of India surf the internet through their phones with majority of the new users accessing it for the first time through phones. “Interestingly, not all of them are English speaking users,” Richa said.

She said out of the 350 million, 150 million internet users are only comfortable with local language and those users will form the majority of the online population in India. Stating that the reach of internet is growing rapidly in the country, she said that net users will go up from the current 43 percent to 62 percent by 2020.

Chitranshi further pointed out that Google have seen 10 fold growth in local language queries over the past 1.5 years. Hindi content consumption is growing five times the rate at which English content is consumed.

She also said that content, speed and products are the priority for the company. The Google Indic keyboard on Android has been downloaded 10 million times. There are 22 official languages in India and Google supports 11 of them including Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada and seven others. This would help writers in a big way, she added.

The initiatives taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the field of Digital India were also highlighted by MPPOST Founder Editor Sarman Nagele and Madhya Pradesh Rojgar aur Nirman Editor Pushpendra Pal Singh during the event.

Google Brings Interactive Display to African American History Museum

Google Brings Interactive Display to African American History Museum

Lonnie G. Bunch III traveled to Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters a little more than a year ago to meet with leaders of the Black Googler Network, an employee group. The director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was then under construction, wanted to tap their technical expertise.

“He made the simple request: ‘However you can, help me make this museum redefine what it means to be a museum in the modern age and be at the cusp of innovation,'” said Travis McPhail, a Google Maps software engineer.

McPhail was inspired.

Google employees have since been developing interactive-display technology that will allow visitors to examine artifacts from all angles using 3D scans that they access through their smartphone’s Web browser. Their phone will also serve up relevant multimedia content, such as text or video, that better explains the artifacts and their significance to African American history.

McPhail said that the technology aims to solve a persistent challenge for museums: only a fraction of their artifacts are on display at any one time. Historic objects must be specially handled and maintained, making it difficult for the museum to put out too many at once. There is also finite physical space.

The technology eliminates those limitations.

“I thought we should be able to add tech to this story and scale up the number of artifacts that would tell a historical story,” McPhail said. “We should be able to do that in a way where visitors really can get a sense of how these objects played a part in history.”

The African America history museum is set to open September 24, but the Google display is not expected until next spring.

Representatives from the museum did not respond to a request for comment.

This isn’t Google’s first museum project. The Google Cultural Institute works with museums and historic sites to integrate interactive technology into their exhibits and enhance the experience for visitors and reach those who may not be able to travel to a physical location.

Earlier this week, the company unveiled an online exhibit called Natural History that uses virtual reality, online video and photos about dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures to bring “an extinct world back to life.”

Microsoft Reportedly Developing Its Own Slack Rival Called Skype Teams

Team-messaging app Slack has recently developed a sizeable user base and earned envy from other apps that allow group messaging. Microsoft is now reportedly coming up with its own rival group chat app under its Skype brand named Skype Teams.

In basic functionality, Skype Teams seems to be fairly similar to Slack as it allows you to chat with other users in the team individually or in groups, as reported by MSPowerUser. Skype Teams will also allow you to share files as well as send emojis just like Slack does. Ther’s also a ‘Fun Picker’ that lets you add gif images and memes to your conversations.Microsoft Reportedly Developing Its Own Slack Rival Called Skype Teams

Further, users can respond to particular comments, as on Facebook threads, and also start video chats at any point during a conversation. Skype Teams will essentially provide users with Slack’s functionality along with core features that you expect from a Skype product.

Microsoft will be adding the ability to schedule online meetings to the app, which might be extremely useful as the app is targeted at teams. The app will also come with an integration with Office 365 apps as well as OneDrive. It will also feature support for the Skype Bot framework, and it will be interesting to see how Microsoft leverages its AI chops to counter Slackbot.

According to the report, Microsoft will be releasing Skype Team apps for Web, Windows, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

Competition can often lead to innovation and there might be certain set of users who might be more suited to Microsoft’s offering due to Office 365 integration. However, for more information about the app, we will have to wait for official announcement by the company.